CAIRO: Egypt has the highest number of detained journalists since record keeping began, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a report Thursday.
According to a prison census CPJ conducted on June 1, 2015, at least 18 journalists were detained in relation to their reporting, compared to 12 journalists in the 2014 census.
Six journalists of the 2015 census received life imprisonment sentences in a mass trial of 51 defendants, while the other 12 have been in remand custody, CPJ report added.
“The threat of imprisonment in Egypt is part of an atmosphere in which authorities pressure media outlets to censor critical voices and issue gag orders on sensitive topics,” the report read.
However, Press Syndicate member, Hazem El-Malah, told The Cairo Post Thursday that the total documented number of detained journalists in Egypt reached 32 adding that the country “lives in a very bad atmosphere.”
“Egypt witnesses the worst period of time since the June 30 incidents. The number of killed and detained journalists is unprecedented. More than 13 journalists were killed and above 30 others detained. There is a conflict between the authority and media,” Malah said.
Although President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi vowed to apply the constitution and the law, however, they have been violated by the Ministry of Interior, Malah continued.
According to the CPJ report, Sisi’s government has used national security and “charges of belonging to illegal group, as pretexts to crack down human rights, including press freedom.”
Recently, a journalist at the state-owned Akhbar al-Youm newspaper has been detained at Torah prison over charges of “belonging to an illegal group,” said head of Journalists Syndicate Yahia al-Qalash Monday.
Under the pretext of “disturbing peace and public security,” the Ministry of Interior filed a complaint against al-Youm al-Sabei newspaper (Youm7) after publishing news saying the motorcade of Sisi was attacked on its way back to Cairo from Sharm el-sheikh. However, the ministry dropped the case.
The report noted that Sisi is expected to ratify a “cybercrime bill” that could block online newspapers.